Chris Rene - Love Don't Live Here - X Factor USA (Madonna cover)

This has certainly been the year of the Santa Cruz-made singing star, with James Durbin dominating the first half of 2011 on FOX, and the fall being taken over thus far by garbage man turned rap-pop hopeful Chris Rene.

After advancing past the "Judges' Homes" round of the talent competition last week, Rene performed as part of the top 17 on Tuesday in front of millions of American viewers.

With help from his mentor/judge L.A. Reid, Rene opted to sing a rendition of Madonna's "Love Don't Live Here Anymore." See the video of Rene's performance above.

While his vocal was less than perfect, Rene certainly hit his stride in the second verse, in which he took the opportunity to spin the song from pop to hip-hop.

“I don’t think you are the best singer in this competition, but you are one of the best recording artists in this competition, and that’s what it’s all about,” Simon Cowell said following the performance. "What I love about you is you are 100 percent authentic. I’ve got to see you in the show next week."

Reid, predictably, agreed with the man opposite him on the judging panel.

"I’m very impressed," he said. "What we have in common is we like the unpredictable. ... You did a great job."

Two segments later, Reid put Rene through to the show's top 12 round, eliminating contender Phillip Lomax.

Now six months out of rehab for drug addiction, Rene will perform live again next Wednesday at 8 p.m.

"If he hadn’t had a drink in his life and hadn't gone through those things, I think he’s still a star," Reid said. "And I love stars."

Did you watch Tuesday's episode? What did you think of Rene? Did he deserve to go on to the top 12? Tell us in the comments!